What compelled me to stop at Petes’ Import Garage on Dekalb Ave. was the fact that sitting in the parking lot were the most fantastic collection of vintage automobiles and because I am drawn to the name Peter. Both my son and father are Peters. What I did not know when I knocked on the door to the shop was that Peter Peteet would answer the door and during our introductions would mention that his partner was a Peter as well, thus the name Petes’ Import Garage. I soon forgot my excitement about the autos when I caught a glimpse of the paintings that hung on the wall of the office and garage. As it turns out, Peter P. is not only a well-respected mechanic but also a talented painter, photographer, poet, environmentalist; not to mention a lovely person. After finishing his art studies at Georgia State University, Peter returned to the Atlanta neighborhood where he grew up to open his garage in 1985. Like his father, he was passionate about preserving a community that had been through many ups and downs over the decades.
With Peter’s permission, I am posting a beautiful poem he wrote in honor of his father who passed away 2 years ago. The poem depicts a man’s devotion to his city of Atlanta and its people at a time when “white flight” was in full swing during the 1960s and ’70s. If you are interested in reading more of Peter’s poems please visit his blog at http://poetpeteet.wordpress.com/
When I think of my Father
When I think of my Father, it’s not his face I see;
Rather his hand, fingers uncurling one by one as he recites
“I have five little friends
Who’ve taught me all I know.
Their name are Who, and Where, and What ,and When and How.”
He lived this poem well always seeking Who before What.
Like my mother when she smelled a thief’s cigarette smoke and called out
He always sought the person in the unknown.
When friends and family fled the city center
He dug in and bought a house which had been empty seven years.
He cleared the overgrown yard and brought back with pruning and fertilizer
The Azaleas which had been dying beneath the weeds.
Goodness and Mercy did not just follow him, he led them firmly by the hand.
When disease and time robbed him of his memory
And many would have been filled with terror
He had that Peace
Which passeth understanding
Yet springs from it.